Hundreds Of Thousands Of DLs Sent To Organised Crime Gangs By Texas Department Of Public Safety

Several thousand Texans may be at risk after the Texas Department of Public Safety was duped into sending replacement driver’s licenses to criminals. According to our partners at The Dallas Morning News, DPS officials said at least 3,000 fraudulent accounts were created and 2,400 Texas driver’s licenses were sent to third-party addresses investigators now believe may be tied to an unnamed Chinese organized crime group in New York.

The paper reported Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw said before a House committee Monday in Austin that criminals obtained information about Asian Texans on the dark web and then used that information to get past lax security and order replacement copies of the licenses. Once obtained by the criminals, the licenses were then believed to have been sold illegally.

DPS Lieutenant Colonel Jeoff Williams said he doesn’t yet know the full scope of the breach. “We have identified approximately 3,000. I don’t have the exact number today, and the reason I don’t have the exact number today is, as we continue the investigation, we’re identifying people,” said Williams.

The discovery was made in December but the agency said those Texans whose information was compromised and used to order a replacement license have not yet been notified.

In responding to questions from Texas Rep. Mary González (D-Clint, District 75), McCraw said they opted to conduct a thorough criminal investigation before notifying those whose information may have been compromised. Texans impacted by the fraud are expected to be notified soon by letter, the DPS said. James Lee is Chief Operating Officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center. He weighed in on the current events in an interview with NBC 5. He said he’s seen a surge in this kind of activity since the onset of the pandemic, starting with unemployment benefits and stolen social security numbers.

“Now, identity criminals are taking that very same playbook and they’re using it for other kinds of identity services,” Lee said. Unlike at social security number, Lee points out, driver’s license numbers can be changed. But for the 3,000 and counting already impacted, the damage might already be done. “This is a classic case of the government getting caught not prepared,” said Lee. According to the DPS similar crimes have been reported in other states and the FBI and Homeland Security are investigating. “We’re not happy at all,” said McCraw. “Control should have been in place, and that should have never happened period.”